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Banff karate chops competition at Edmonton tournament

Banff Kyokushin Karate students took home two medals in the 2024 Alberta Open Karate Championships in Edmonton which took place on Saturday (April 13).
Katherine Hogan, left, Grace Mayberry Hjertas, middle, and Fergus Lander-Mcintosh pose for a portrait at the Banff Kyokushin Karate dojo on Monday (April 15). MATTHEW THOMPSON RMO PHOTO

EDMONTON – Banff Kyokushin Karate students took home two medals in the 2024 Alberta Open Karate Championships in Edmonton on Saturday (April 13).

“The Edmonton tournament is actually much larger than we expected this year," said Daymon Miller, head instructor of Banff Kyokushin Karate and third-degree black belt. "A lot more competitors were there, especially at the junior level. It made for good competition for all of our students and it felt good to bring a team up there.”

The youngest podium finisher of the dojo, nine-year-old Leonne Patelle took home bronze in his division and surprised Miller with his ability to move through a fight.

“Rather than just stand there like little kids do, and just stand in front of each other and punch each other, he’s actually starting to move a little bit. So that is really impressive to see that he's starting to pick up on those skills that we're practicing in the dojo,” said Miller.

“You can really see his ability progressing and his ability to push the pace and be aggressive in a match.”

Grace Mayberry Hjertas, 14, had a tall task and fought outside of her normal division. 

“I was very nervous beforehand, but I was able to calm myself down during my fight,” said Hjertas.

“There was no one in my division. They just moved me to a different one and it still fit my weight category, so it was OK.”

She won the first match and lost the second, earning silver for the dojo.

Katherine Hogan, assistant instructor at the Banff dojo and brown belt, was met with an unlucky circumstance when she had to fight some a third of her age.

“There was actually nobody in my division except for myself. They had the choice of either just cutting the division and I wouldn't have fought at all or putting me in a different one. I ended up in the open division, which means that I was fighting somebody a third of my age,” said Hogan.

Ultimately, Hogan lost the round, which still earned her silver, but she remained positive with the outcome.

“So, she won, which didn't surprise me, I had no illusions at being able to beat an 18-year-old, but I held my own and fought through to the end and didn't end up with any injuries. I’m happy with it overall,” she said.

Hogan expressed she’d like to see more older women in the sport and although karate can be intimidating to join, it comes with it’s benefits both on and off the mats.

“It's had a lot of benefits outside of the dojo for me that I didn't really expect just in terms of building confidence. And that's I’ve had that apply inside the workplace as well where all of a sudden, I’m like ‘huh, I'm confident where I wasn't before’ and that's very much thanks to martial arts training,” said Hogan.

Fergus Lander-Mcintosh had only one competitor as well to face, as there was only one fighter in his age and weight class.

Lander-Mcintosh didn’t win the fight but appreciated the “opportunity to get some more miles.”  

“I came in second place because I lost the fight, and he got first, but it was all around super fun. He's a tough fight,” he said.

Although, three of the medallists had minimal, or no competitors in their division, Miller says that it’s “the nature of martial arts tournaments” as the divisions are divided through age and weight.

“There's always somebody to compete against … sometimes it works in your favour, and sometimes it doesn't,” said Miller.

One tournament remains in the dojos five tournament season which takes place in Vancouver on May 4.

“There's lots of opportunity to compete for all age levels right through whether you're, highly competitive, whether you're senior or junior. There's lots of opportunity for anyone to participate,” said Miller.

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